Winter can be tough and before coming to Copenhagen I think the short cold days were what I was most afraid of. It can be hard to keep spirits high when there is hardly any sunlight and when it feels like the weather is just pushing you to stay inside. I wanted to write this post to help anyone reading make the most of the season, which I find actually has so much to offer in terms of developing and nurturing relationships- both with oneself and with the people that surround us. Here are my tips for enjoying the harsh four-five months leading up to warmer and sunnier times.
1. Find an indoor hobby
Whether it’s reading, painting, blogging, writing, yoga, meditating, sewing, knitting or cooking – having a creative outlet to devote some time to when you’re home makes such a difference. Let’s face it, you’re going to be spending more time indoors than you would during warmer months, and focusing some of your energy towards a project can have such a positive impact on your mood. Having active quality time with myself, instead of spending hours mindlessly watching netflix, has made me appreciate and look forward to alone time and also allows me to go to sleep feeling happy and fulfilled. I’m now also completely ok with being alone for a few days while friends are busy or out of town, whereas I used to start feeling anxious if no one was free to go out and I had to spend the afternoon at home. Basically, make the most out of your time with yourself.
2. Find a home away from home
As much as I have come to appreciate home-time, I do still like to change up the scenery when I need to work or study from home. At least three days a week I spend the day at a cafe a few blocks away from my apartment. It has become my calm place, and has such a homey feel to it. As much as I want to avoid being cliche, and using the word ‘hygge’ to describe a danish cafe, this place really epitomises cosiness. I spend most of my time there watching blonde babies play, drinking vegan chai lattes and eating hummus, but I do occasionally get some work done. If you feel like winter has made you home-ridden or library-ridden, I suggest you find a spot not too far from home where you can go even if the weather is terrible and make it your own. Take a book, magazine or some work and spend the day there- it will change your perspective on study/work days. Also, chances are that if you go to the same place often enough, there will be some type of coffee reward system and won’t mind you staying for hours- at mine you get a free drink every ten you buy, and I’ve already finished my card 4 times- that’s a lot of free chai…
3. Party for 8
People time! Alone time is great, but you appreciate it most after a busy day with friends. Copenhagen is such a fun city and there is so much to do, but like most big cities, you can spend a lot of money eating and drinking out. Instead, get your group of friends together at the most accessible apartment, cook, play and spend some quality time together. Last week we threw a porridge party- I cooked a kilo of oats in coconut milk, and everyone brought different toppings: strawberries, apples, maple syrup, peanut butter, home made applesauce and chocolate- and we cosy-ed up with a warm bowl of sweet porridge. A few weeks before that it was a christmas session, and the week before that, brunch – fully loaded with avocado, bread and jam. We then usually end up playing cards, playing a board game, listening to some music, watching a movie or talking. Basically, follow step 1 with your nearest and dearest, and cosy up with your people.
4. Get out there
I know, it’s cold. It’s really really cold. And it’s really windy. But chances are, it’s going to be like this for a few more months. Put those layers on, get a raincoat, hat, thick socks and rain boots and venture outside. It’s so important to get in contact with nature, especially when you’re living in a city. I’m lucky enough to live near the beach here and we often find ourselves going for walks to the water. If you don’t live near any open spaces check and see if there is anything a short train ride away. Go with a group, or on your own, and I promise it will make the cosy moments indoors all the more worth while.
5. Nourish yourself
Don’t do it for the ‘bikini body’, don’t do it because “summer bodies are made in the winter” or anything ridiculous like that. Do it because your body deserves love and care, especially during this harsh season. Warm up to hot soups and curries, get good fats in and devote time to your meals- your body will thank you and your mood will improve. I know you might just be tempted to eat warm cinnamon buns all day – I’ve been there – and I 100% recommend indulging in baked goods at any time of the year, but try to make sure the majority of your meals are fuelling your body. If you don’t get much joy from cooking your meals, try cooking dinner with a friend. There was a week in November in which I cooked dinner at a different friend’s place every night, as the idea of going home and cooking alone didn’t really appeal to me, and each night we cooked something hearty and healthy. Get in the kitchen and cook yourself happy!
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Even if you do all of these things and spend every day surrounded by people, the moment may still come when you feel entirely alone and helpless. Some people really do just suffer more than others, from the lack of sunlight and warmth, and it’s just important to remember that the cold will eventually pass and that you’re surrounded by people that care about you. Take it easy, rest up and take care of yourself.